Free Essay: Dual Diagnosis and Psychopharmacology

Published: 2022-03-25
Free Essay: Dual Diagnosis and Psychopharmacology
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Pharmacology Substance abuse Drug abuse
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1292 words
11 min read

Dual diagnosis occurs when one has a mood disorder together with alcohol or drug use problems. As a result, it is important for healthcare professionals to consider treatment of both the mental health problems as well as the substance and alcohol misuse problems (Drake et al., 2001). The concurrence of two things in dual diagnosis is associated with a broad range of factors which interact together to allow for healthcare professionals to have a better understanding of the patient. According to Krausz (1996), there are our categories of these interactions. The first involves a primary diagnosis of the mental health problem of the patient and this followed by secondary problems that are associated with substance and alcohol misuse, and this goes circularly back to the mental health problems. The second category involves the substance and alcohol use being considered the primary diagnosis and the mental health problems as secondary. The third one involves healthcare professionals seeing the mental health problems and the substance or alcohol use problems occurring concurrently. Finally, the last category involves a traumatic event that causes a patient to suffer both mental health problems as well as substance or alcohol misuse. These four categories show how dual diagnosis can be made and, in all cases, it is evident that it involves both a mental health problem and cases od substance or alcohol misuse.

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Rhonda's Dual Diagnosis Rhonda is someone who is depressed, and this has resulted in her using alcohol and smoking cigarettes in order to handle the illness. In this case, mental health problems are considered the primary diagnosis and the alcohol and cigarette use as a secondary problem. In essence, it is the depression that resulted in Rhonda starting to use excessive alcohol and cigarette smoking. The depression made her addicted to alcohol and cigarettes that even when her doctor gave her medicine, she resorted to taking them with drugs. This situation has made Rhonda arrested due to driving while under the influence of alcohol. The journey to her recovery can only be accomplished if she chooses to stop drinking and ensure that she takes her depression medication. In this case, her husband will support her. Rhonda can be considered to be "dually diagnosed" since she has a mood disorder (depression) and she also has problems with alcohol and cigarettes. Thus, Rhonda has two separate illnesses, and each of then needs its treatment plan. The doctor diagnosed her with depression, and she was given Prozac and Wellbutrin which are antidepressants. Also, she was diagnosed with alcoholism hence had to see a therapist.

Health Problems Associated with The Use of Alcohol

Alcohol is a substance that can have diverse effects on both the body and the brain. Apart from killing brain cells, when taken in large quantities, alcohol does not have any constructive effects on the body. Some people, such as Rhonda, may consider alcohol a way that would allow them to overlook their problems, but in reality, the consequences of too much alcohol in the body outweigh the benefits (Hart & Ksir, 2015). Besides, after the alcohol has worn out, the person will have more problems that he/she initially had as it was only a temporary solution. Such people would then resort to taking more alcohol, and with each gulp, they increase their health problems.

Some of the diseases that are associated with excessive use of alcohol are liver cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and several types of cancer. Liver cirrhosis is a disease in which one's liver becomes scarred so much that one lack the requisite healthy tissue for the liver to perform its function. According to WHO (2014), once one gets liver cirrhosis, then he/she cannot get away from it. In short, no treatment is able to cure liver cirrhosis or repair scarred tissue. The treatment that is only available is one in which prevents further liver damage. Alcohol hepatitis, on the other hand, is inflammation of the liver that is caused by excessive drinking of alcohol. In turn, this disease can lead to other complications such as hepatic encephalopathy whereby the toxins that the liver filters remain in the bloodstream (Hart & Ksir, 2015). These toxins can then reach the brain thus damaging it and result in a coma. Finally, alcohol can result in several types of cancer such as oral cavity, esophagus, liver, and pancreatic cancers (Hart & Ksir, 2015). Clearly, it can be seen that excessive consumption of alcohol is indeed harmful to one's health.

Health Problems Associated with The Use of Cigarettes

Just as alcohol, the use of cigarettes is associated with a myriad of health problems. Perhaps the most well known detrimental effect of cigarette use is that it can lead to lung cancer. Studies have shown that the more one smokes, then the more he/she has a chance of getting lung cancer. However, lung cancer is not the only problem that such behaviors cause. In fact, according to the CDC, smoking can cause cancer to almost any part of the body. The CDC gives examples of bladder, blood, cervix, intestinal, esophagus, larynx, liver, pancreas, stomach, trachea, and lung cancer (CDC, 2017). The problem is further magnified because the smoking not only affects the user but also people in the near vicinity as they inhale the smoke. Since cancer is one of the most feared diseases, it becomes clear that smoking has far many negative influences on one's health as opposed to the perceived benefits that smokers may lean on.

Apart from cancer, smoking is also associated with other health risks. For instance, for the case of Rhonda, a woman, smoking can lead to complications such as preterm delivery, stillbirth, low birth weight, and ectopic pregnancies (Hart & Ksir, 2015). These complications are dangerous both to the mother and child. For the case of men, smoking can result in reduced fertility and increase the risks of congenital disabilities. Other than diseases associated with reproduction, smoking can also affect the health of teeth and gums, and in some instance, smokers end up losing some of their teeth. Finally, heavy smokers generally have adverse effects on their bodies which include inflammation as well as decreased immune systems (Hart & Ksir, 2015). Together with the cancers, these complications show that cigarettes can cause adverse health impacts.


Dual diagnosis has enabled a better understanding of the health problems of Rhonda. The dual diagnosis carried out in this case considered the mental health problem, in this case, depression, as the primary diagnosis and the excessive use of alcohol and cigarette smoking as the secondary diagnosis. Rhonda may think that she is relieving herself from the depression by taking alcohol and smoking cigarettes but in reality, she may be exposing herself to even more health complications. Alcohol and cigarettes have been associated with a myriad of health problems and by taking them, Rhonda may, in fact, be aggravating her depression after the effects of the drugs wear out. Therefore, dual diagnosis enables healthcare professionals to see that Rhonda has two separate illnesses and that each of the illness will need its treatment plan.


CDC. (2017). CDC - Fact Sheet - Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking - Smoking & Tobacco Use. Smoking and Tobacco Use. Retrieved 25 February 2018, from

Drake, R. E., Essock, S. M., Shaner, A., Carey, K. B., Minkoff, K., Kola, L., ... & Rickards, L. (2001). Implementing dual diagnosis services for clients with severe mental illness. Psychiatric services, 52(4), 469-476.

Hart, C. L. & Ksir, C. (2015). Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education

Krausz, M. (1996). Old problems-new perspectives. European Addiction Research, 2(1), 1-2.

World Health Organization, & World Health Organization Management of Substance Abuse Unit. (2014). Global status report on alcohol and health, 2014. World Health Organization.

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